Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” But at least in the Internet age, we can lace them up a lot faster.
And so it is with the tale of big mean high-school bully Mitt Romney scarring fellow student John Lauber for life, a story that started to fall apart as soon as the Washington Post clicked the Publish button. As Matt Lewis noted, one of the supposed witnesses in WaPo’s story, quoted as saying he has “long been bothered” by Romney’s big mean bullying, didn’t actually witness it and didn’t know about it until the WaPo reporter contacted him.
Now, as Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com has discovered, our moral, ethical, and intellectual superiors have done the only thing they can. They’ve tried to cover it up.
So the Washington Post did what no reputable newspaper should ever do when caught falsifying testimony: it made a stealth correction to its own article. The article now reads:
“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and said he has been “disturbed” by the Lauber incident since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by The Washington Post. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.” [emphasis added]
The Post did not note that it had made any correction to the article.
Well, of course not. It’s the Washington Post. What do a bunch of dumb bloggers know about making corrections? You’ll take what you’re given and like it. And when they get a fact wrong and change it without telling you, you’ll take that and like it. You’re in no position to question your betters, peasant.
And what about Lauber’s family? What do they think of this whole thing? ABC News reports:
The older sister of Mitt Romney’s former high school classmate said she has no knowledge of any bullying incident involving her brother and the GOP presidential candidate.
Christine Lauber of South Bend, Ind., had not seen the Washington Post’s story that described an incident when Mitt Romney bullied her brother, but said she was aware of the story…
Betsy Lauber, one of John Lauber’s three sisters, spoke with ABC News Tuesday night regarding the accuracy of the story.
“The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family,” she said…
“Even if it did happen, John probably wouldn’t have said anything,” Christine Lauber said…
“If he were still alive today, he would be furious [about the story],” she said with tears in her eyes.
Sounds to me like she feels… bullied.
But considering that John Lauber has been dead for 8 years, what right does his own sister have to speak for him? Better to leave it up to a liberal newspaper that will do anything to keep a Republican out of the White House.
All of this puts some recent news from Forbes into perspective:
The Washington Post Co. reported its first-quarter earnings on Friday, and the news coming out of the newspaper division was mostly grim. The unit lost $22.6 million in the quarter, with revenue down 8% and revenue from print advertising specifically falling 17%.
Meanwhile, the Post just reported one of the biggest circulation drops of any major newspaper with the lucrative Sunday edition selling 5.2% fewer copies and the daily edition skidding almost 10%. Oh, and newsroom leaders are so distressed about the way the business decline is affecting them, they held a secret meeting with the paper’s president, Steve Hills — without inviting executive editor Marcus Brauchli.
And their social media strategy is a disaster too.
“Hmmm, our circulation is plummeting, the newsroom is in chaos, things are looking bleak… Hey, how about a sensational story about the Republican candidate for president being a big mean bully in high school? That’ll fix everything. Go! Go! Go! …What’s that? Fact-check? No, there’s no time, just get it out there. We’ll fix it on the fly if need be. Who’s gonna notice, a few stupid teabaggers?”
This isn’t about Romney. It’s about the culture at the Washington Post and most other national news outlets. It’s about their desperation and their contempt for their own audience. It’s about their institutional decay.
Oh, and just as a reminder: Obama shoves girls.
Update: As long as we’re talking about bullying, does the President of the United States using the powers of his office to target donors to his opponent by name qualify as bullying? If not, why not?
Update: Well, at least this is helping Obama in the polls OH WAIT.
Update: Robert Stacy McCain points to this section of WaPo’s story, quoting Romney’s schoolmate and alleged bullying witness David Seed:
Sometime in the mid-1990s, David Seed noticed a familiar face at the end of a bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
“Hey, you’re John Lauber,” Seed recalled saying at the start of a brief conversation. Seed, also among those who witnessed the Romney-led incident, had gone on to a career as a teacher and principal. Now he had something to get off his chest.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation,” he said.
Lauber paused, then responded, “It was horrible.” He went on to explain how frightened he was during the incident, and acknowledged to Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”
Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters.
FIRING OFFENSE, period.
By God, you can’t do that in journalism: You cannot base a key element of a story — in this case, the claim that Romney’s bullying left Lauber emotionally traumatized for life — on a quote from the deceased “victim” attributed to him based on an (alleged) private conversation. Lauber isn’t around to verify or dispute the accuracy of Seed’s account, and therefore it is unethical to include the “quotes” that [David] Seed attributes to Lauber.
When Jason Horowitz is fired — and it should be a matter of when he’s fired, not if he’s fired — this “Dead Man’s Quote” trick will be noted among the worst of his wrongdoings.
Yeah, but Romney is a Republican. Duh.
Update: It just keeps getting better. Or, if you’re an Obama supporter, worse.
Update: I’m going with better.